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Breast cancer testing guidelines stir controversy

Category: Breast

A federal panel of medical experts from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended this week that women wait until they turn 50 to get their first mammogram to test for breast cancer.

According the the organization’s guidelines, women aged 40 to 49 should speak with their doctor about screening in order to assess breast cancer risk, and those aged 50 to 74 should have testing performed every other year, rather than annually, HealthDay News reports.

"From age 39 on, a woman should have a yearly visit to her healthcare provider, during which she discusses which routine tests are appropriate for her, including mammography," gynecologist Judi Chervenak, an associate clinical professor of obstetrics at Montefiore Medical Center, told the news source.

She added that unless a particular patient is at an increased risk of radiation exposure, the benefits of routine mammograms can save lives and improve the quality of life for many women.

According to chief of staff at Santa Monica-UCLA Medical Center, Dr David Baron, when women review the new guidelines, they should keep in mind that the recommendations are based on an entire population, and the decision to pursue breast cancer testing is an individual choice.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 41,116 women and 375 men died from breast cancer in 2005.

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